'We connected instantly' Journey to adoption brings family joy
On a Thursday afternoon in mid-August, Megan Chisholm sits in a local coffee shop, preparing a bottle in one hand and resting her 3-month-old baby girl on her leg and the crook of her other arm.
While motherhood comes naturally to her, it certainly didn't come easily. The road to baby Lennon was a long one — seven years — and filled with physical and emotional difficulties for Megan and her husband Kris, who live in Alexandria.
But, as Megan looks adoringly at her daughter, she says she wouldn't change a thing.
Kris and Megan's journey to parenthood began in 2010. After getting married a few years earlier, they decided it was time to have children. However, they had no luck conceiving and soon began to feel as if something was wrong.
After a few years of trying, the couple found an infertility clinic in the Twin Cities, where they were told they both had medical complications that would make natural conception difficult.
In 2015, they opted to try in vitro fertilization (IVF), during which a woman's egg is fertilized by a male's sperm outside of the body and then implanted in the woman's uterus. Their first round of IVF resulted in a chemical pregnancy, or a very early miscarriage.
"I remember going into our first pre-IVF meeting and there were six couples," Megan said. "The gal there said the odds are that for one in six it doesn't work the first time. I was like, 'OK, we're young, we're healthy, it won't be us.' And then it was us."
Over the next three years, the couple attempted IVF two more times with no luck. The process took a toll physically, as Megan had to give herself hormone injections and even developed a mass on her uterus from the estrogen.
"I used to have to give shots in the stomach multiple times a day," she said. "I counted once and it was 480 times I'd injected myself."
Throughout this process, Megan began sharing their story on a blog. Though therapeutic in a way, it also became difficult when the IVF failed.
"When you start writing about it, then you have to write about it when it doesn't work," Megan said. "So that was really difficult. We felt like we were letting people down."
Kris says that while sharing their struggles wasn't always easy, it was worth it.
"Sharing our story was not always easy and still isn't easy, but I don't ever want another family to feel alone in the process of infertility or adoption," Kris said.
Eventually, after being told the likelihood of success with IVF was low, Kris and Megan had to come to terms with the fact that they would likely not have biological children.
"You never think you're not going to be able to have kids," she said. "You have to grieve the fact that you can't. Your biology in a kid, you think it's a way bigger deal than it is. I would sit and cry and think, 'I want a baby that has my eyes, or Kris's personality.' That was hard to grieve."
While adoption hadn't been on the couple's radar previously, Megan had stumbled upon an adoption consultant on Instagram who caught her eye.
"She would write every time a baby was placed with a family," Megan said. "I would read the posts and was like, 'They're so God-driven.'"
Megan broached the topic of adoption to Kris, who agreed that contacting the consultant would be a good next step. After speaking with the consultant, Megan and Kris received the adoption paperwork in February 2016.
However, they didn't begin filling it out for another five months — something Megan now says was all part of God's plan.
"It's just so wild to me, now that she (Lennon) is here, to know that God was totally OK with the fact that we let that sit in a drawer," she said. "He knew we would start filling it out at the right time to get matched with her."
Once the paperwork was filled out and submitted, the Chisholms had to undergo a homestudy to make sure they were fit to be adoptive parents. Through this process, they didn't tell anyone about their plans to adopt.
"When we got approved in September, then we announced we were adopting," Megan said. "When we announced it, we started seeing situations, which is an email about an expectant mom who is wanting to make a birth plan for her baby."
Over the course of the next six months, the Chisholms would view around 50 different situations. They presented, meaning they expressed interest, to only four.
"We heard three times that she (the birth mother) chose the other family, which is kind of heartbreaking," Megan said. "When you put your 'yes' on the table, you're basically saying 'If she chooses me, this is my baby.'"
But the fourth time was different. They heard they had been chosen.
Matching with Lennon
Lennon's situation came to Megan after a particularly rough day.
"A couple babies were born, another couple announced they were matched, another lady announced she was pregnant after years of infertility," Megan recalled. "I was just like, 'OK, am I doing the wrong thing here?'"
That night, Megan received the email that would eventually make her and Kris parents.
"A lawyer that we had presented to and heard 'no' from messaged me and said, 'I have a situation I think you'll be perfect for,'" Megan said. "And before I even opened it, I knew, just because of the day I had."
Later that night, Megan mentioned the email to Kris and they decided to present. Days passed and Valentine's Day arrived. After getting home that night, Megan's phone died. When she plugged it in to charge, she had a voicemail from the lawyer telling her she and Kris had been matched.
"We were in the kitchen and we fell down crying," Megan said. "Kris collapsed to his knees."
The next day, the couple was told the expectant mother would like to meet them in person. On Feb. 27, they flew to Florida.
"We connected instantly," Megan said. "After the meeting we went to a 4-D ultrasound and we saw her (Lennon)."
Megan and Kris left, with plans to return 10 weeks later for Lennon's birth. In the time between, they spoke daily with the expectant mother and formed a friendship.
In early May, the Chisholms returned to Florida. On May 8, their daughter was born. Lennon's birth mother ended up undergoing an emergency C-section, which Megan was in the room for.
"I was the first person to hold her, I cut her cord, I brought her to birth mom," Megan recalled. "My biggest fear was that she and I wouldn't bond. But she's like 10 minutes old and I swear she's looking at me. I felt an immediate connection, consumed with so much love for her."
After staying in the neonatal intensive care unit for a few weeks, the Chisholms returned to Alexandria. Megan says their relationship with Lennon's birth mother remains strong.
"She has no fears that I'm going to shut her out of Lennon's life," Megan said. "If she texts me and says, 'I'm having a tough day and need a picture, how's she doing?' I'll communicate that with her. ... We both have such a unique connection filled with so much love and respect for each other."
For Kris, bringing home Lennon has been eye-opening in terms of faith.
"Every day we hold Lennon we are so thankful for God taking something so broken as our bodies and showing us that we were called for more," Kris said. "The way He so carefully orchestrated the tiniest of details to bring us together reminds me that in the end, love is what makes a family."
As Lennon grows up, the Chisholms know she will likely have questions about where she came from and the circumstances that lead to her adoption.
"No baby is lucky to be separated from their birth family," Megan said. "But we are lucky to have the opportunity to make an impact on her life and parent her."
As for the future? Megan and Kris plan to be honest with Lennon about how she came to be their daughter and they want her to know how much her birth mother cared for her.
"It's my mission for her to grow up knowing that her life has value, that she was chosen and that her birth mom loves her tremendously," Megan said.
Infertility blog: www.megankrischisholm.blogspot.com